NEWBERRY — The Oakland Mill is still standing on Fair Avenue after more than 100 years although the building now features college dorms and soon will include residential apartments.
On Friday, the former mill turned into residences received an historical preservation marker illustrating the history of a historical presence in Newberry.
Misty West of West Development headed the ceremony held in the lobby of the mill and thanked a number of people and businesses for their help in carrying out the vision from a vacant, old mill into a residential area. The mill is split between Newberry College dormitories and the other half is in the process of becoming residential apartments.
West said the process of turning the mill into apartments has been ongoing since 2009.
“About 138 college students are living here now,” said West. “Without the city’s help, none of it would be possible. They stepped up and went beyond the call of duty. This is the last mill in Newberry County and it’s important to save the mill and revise the Oakland Mill area.”
In addition to the City of Newberry’s aid, West also thanked BCI Lending and Newberry’s First Community Bank for commercial lending aid.
Even though the mill is not through yet, it has come a long way.
Peggie West, president of the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society, gave a brief rundown of the history of the mill, beginning in August 1910 when Oakland Mill was chartered.
The mill opened Feb. 8, 1912, and in 1925 was bought by Kendall Company, according to West. Looms, sewer connections and other additions were added and the mill employed about 400 workers.
The mill area was surrounded by homes, churches, businesses and even supported a Boy Scout troop, she said.
During the 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s, mills in general were starting to go through hardships. However, in 1985 Kendall Company was bought by Colgate Palmolive Company and the Oakland Mill closed, West said.
Eventually American Fiber and Finishing came but in 2008, they closed. In April 2009, the mill was bought by West Development.
Now, the mill houses college students and Misty West said that hopefully in May 2013 the residential apartments will be ready to open and lease.
Newberry Mayor Foster Senn said the historical marker is important and something to take away is “a great mill still stands.”
Sen. Ronnie Cromer and District 40 Rep. Walt McLeod presented certificates from the S.C. Senate and S.C. House, respectively, to Misty West for the historical preservation of the mill.
“Preserving the architecture is an important part of history and heritage of Newberry County,” said McLeod.
More information about the Oakland Mill can be found on the S.C. Department of Archives and History’s State Historic Preservation Office’s website at www.nationalregister.sc.gov/newberry/S10817736033/index.htm.
South Carolina historical markers mark and interpret places important to an understanding of South Carolina’s past. As the official state historical marker program since 1936, the South Carolina Historical Marker Program has established criteria for what places can and cannot be marked, and for the process by which accurate and appropriate marker texts are approved by the S.C. Department of Archives and History, according to the website.